In this Issue:
** To Live the Christian Life to the Fullest Requires…
** The Simplicity of Receiving Forgiveness
** The King of Porn
** Newsletter Archives
**Mike Genung’s Books
** More Reading
** Final Words
To Live the Christian Life to the Fullest Requires…
By Mike Genung
Let’s say you’re hit hard with the pull to binge on porn. Waves of lust roll over you; it would feel so good to give in. At that moment you have a choice to make: say no and move away from the temptation, or give in. Either lust is going to take over and Christ will fade, or the self must die.
When I say no to lust, there’s a yearning, even mourning that takes place. A part of me feels like it’s dying; all of my selfishness, lust, and pride are getting hit. But after a few minutes, the flesh-craving fades and there’s a lift. I didn’t immerse myself in that spiritual and emotional sewage. I feel free; there’s a sense of release, even joy.
I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily
1 Corinthians 15:31
If I want to continue to live in freedom and joy, I have to practice death daily, in every area of my life.
It’s hardest at home. It’s so easy to go into “I want what I want, now” mode. If we could just put self to death in the home, we’d eliminate most of the conflict there. Our fight to die is everywhere, from how the house is decorated, where or what we eat, how we raise our kids, and accepting differences in personality and preference.
Have you ever noticed there are times when we get our way but feel miserable afterwards? If we’re technically right but are bulldozing or manipulating to get our way, we’re blowing it big time. After 24 years of marriage, I’m finally learning that it’s freeing to not always have my way. Or try to make my wife to be like me, or force her to enjoy the same things I do. Loving my wife is more important that winning. There’s more peace and joy in the marriage, and my wife and I are working together instead of against each other. It’s okay and even a blessing that she’s my polar opposite; I can learn from her strengths, and vice versa.
Then there’s the relationship with my kids. I’ve been in control freak mode where I’ve tried to micro-manage every move or decision my kids make, and it sucks. There’s a time to teach and a time to discipline, but there’s also a time to let them make their decisions and discover who and what they’re about. This is risky because they will make mistakes; I’m challenged again to die to my natural instinct, which is to have my way.
I took my 19 year old son on a business trip last year, hoping he would be interested in working for me. He wasn’t. I could have pushed and manipulated for what I wanted, but it would have made a bloody mess (some parents are masters of guilt and manipulation). Instead I chose to let it go. He’s not the same person, and God has a different plan for his life.
I find that surrendering the control freak in me is often woven into the decision to die. So does releasing the fear of what will happen if I’m not in control (probably good things since I have blind spots like everyone else). When it comes to lust, for example, I had to let go of the idea that lust would fill my heart and trust that God had something better, and especially, that He would show up. Once I finally started killing my lust desires by taking the actions to cut it off, God showed up in powerful ways.
Death to self requires that we surrender our rights, which includes the rights to win, have our way, get what we want when we want it, and have life go the way we expect it to. Think of the times when God has interrupted your life and plans and blew your schedule apart for His purposes. Did you get angry or impatient, or was there a humble laying down of your rights to have life go your way? I’m more prone to the first response.
Our focus can be so narrow. We obsess about getting what we want at all costs, without taking the time to stop and pray and ask God what He wants to do in our lives. The more I choose death to self, the freer I become.
God’s commands in Scripture challenge us to kill self. Think of others as more important than yourself. Be patient and kind. Renounce pride. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Have sex only in the confines of marriage. Love your enemies. Consider it joy when you’re suffering. Learn how to live without blowing your top and raging at others. Listen more and talk less. No matter what you’re going through, trust God. Love your wife like Christ loves the church. Submit to your husband.
Living in obedience to all of this is impossible without death to self.
Such death is miserably hard. Everything inside of me goes against the grain of what God wants to do. There’s something in me that wants to lust after women. I want to buy stuff and have the nice house in the suburbs. Love my enemies? I can barely love my friends the way I should on my best day. You don’t want to know what I look like on my worst day. Love my wife like Christ loves the church? It’s taken me 24 years just to get in the ballpark. Some days I’m in left field, as Michelle would attest.
Oh, and then there’s the command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Death here often means forcing myself to stop, shut out all distractions, and give Him extended time in prayer and seeking. When the tyranny of the urgent is screaming, my flesh wants to charge full steam ahead and throw God a few crumbs on my way out the door.
We can put death to self through firing off consistent prayer-flares for Holy Spirit-powered help, keeping ourselves immersed in God’s word so the Sword of the Spirit can keep our pride deflated, and making choices that line ourselves up with God’s unyielding standard for humility. Intentionally putting ourselves in places of serving others and letting our loved ones win will keep us in a place of freedom from self.
What we gain—peace, freedom, and love, is of far greater benefit than what we will give up—pride, self-obsession, sin, and repeatedly hurting others.
The Simplicity of Receiving Forgiveness
By Mike Genung
After Nathan confronted David head-on for his sins of adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband, David’s response was short and to the point, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13).
There was no justification, explanation, or denial; no talk of being sorry about his sin. David simply confessed that what he did was wrong. Immediately after, Nathan told David “The Lord has taken away your sin.”
When the prodigal son was on his way home to his father, he planned to confess his transgressions with a speech: “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men” (Luke 15:18). After his father charged his son and gave him a bear hug, his son started into his confession. As the words “I am no longer worthy to be called your son” were out of his mouth, the father cut him off son and started the party in celebration of his return. The son never got a chance to offer to be treated like an employee.
1 John 1:9 shows us how to find cleansing and forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
As the stories and verses above show, the only requirement for believers in Christ to receive forgiveness is to confess them. Today, this still amazes me. There are times when I blow it badly and I feel like I need to explain what happened, or trudge through the mud of shame, guilt, or condemnation, but Scripture calls for none of that; just a simple act of confession…
The King of Porn
The U.S. is the worldwide King of Porn:
60% of all porn pages worldwide are hosted in the U.S.
26% are hosted in the Netherlands
7% are hosted in the U.K.
1% are hosted by Germany
California is the engine of the global porn industry, churning out 66% of all porn made in the U.S.
We spend millions of dollars every year sending missionaries to every corner of the globe, why not spend a fraction of this to shake the walls of the porn machine that exists in our own backyard? This isn’t a ministry that everyone will be called to the front lines for, but we can all play our part.
Here are several ways how:
1. Get Christians to stop looking at porn. We’re one of the porn industry’s biggest customers, so getting the church to stop using their product will carve out a huge chunk of their demand. This means churches have to face the size of the problem and take effective action.
2. Pray for all the men and women who are involved in making porn, that God would reveal Himself to them, and send workers into the harvest. These are real people whose lives are being destroyed.
3. We need more people who are willing to say “Here am I, send me,” especially women. If God calls you to minister to persons in the sex industry, go.
Here’s what happened when one pastor’s wife heeded God’s call to go:
She had no history in the porn or sex industry, and God is using her to snatch precious lives out of the fire. You’ll also find her approach to be a great lesson in one way to reach the lost.
You can read this and previous editions of the Blazing Grace Newsletter online at www.roadtograce.net:
September 2013: God Shines Through the Cracks
August 2013: How God Brought New Life to My Marriage
July 2013: What Porn is Doing to Us
June 2013: Which One Will You Serve?
May 2013: What Defines You?
April 2013: 15 Principles for Freedom
March 2013: I Believe; Help My Unbelief!
February 2013: Adultery
January 2013: Speak, Lord, Your Servant is Listening
December 2012: Healing the Wounds of Rejection
November 2012: A Look at Grace
October 2012: When Someone Shares their Sin
September 2012: Willpower Doesn’t Work
August 2012: Look Who’s One of the Porn Industry’s Biggest Customers
July 2012: For Those Who are Control Freaks (and Don’t Want to Be)
June 2012: Blazing Grace on a Sunday Morning
Mike Genung’s Books
The Road to Grace; Finding True Freedom from the Bondage of Sexual Addiction is Mike Genung’s book on breaking free from sexual addiction.
Topics covered include:
* Biblical tools for overcoming sexual temptation.
* Healing from shame.
* How to stop a masturbation habit.
* Dealing with the core issues that drive sexual sin.
* Understanding and receiving the love of God in the heart.
* Healing for Wives
* How to restore a marriage that’s been broken by sexual sin and/or adultery.
The Road to Grace is used in support groups, and provides plenty of material for discussion.
100 Days on the Road to Grace; a Devotional for the Sexually Broken, is a new book that just came out last month.
For more information and to purchase, visit www.roadtograce.net
The Destructive Force of Adultery
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace, you have been saved),
Blazing Grace’s purpose is to minister to the sexually broken, encourage believers to draw closer to God, and encourage the church to effectively deal with the porn epidemic.
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All material copyright 2013 Mike Genung